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Section 214 claims

This content applies to England

Financial sanctions for not complying with the tenancy deposit protection scheme rules.

The tenant, or any other 'relevant person', who paid a deposit can make an application to the county court for an order imposing financial sanctions on a landlord or agent who has failed to comply with her/his obligations under the tenancy deposit protection provisions within the relevant time limits.[1] For details of the statutory requirements see Tenancy deposit protection rules.

A section 214 claim is not available where a deposit was paid in respect of a fixed-term assured shorthold tenancy that became a statutory periodic tenancy before 6 April 2007, and has never been renewed since.

Starting a claim

A section 214 claim should be brought under Part 8 of the Civil Procedure Rules, as modified by Part 56, using Court Form N208.[2] The court may accept a claim made on the standard Court Form N1 especially from a litigant in person.

An application can also be made by way of counterclaim, for example to a landlord's claim for rent arrears.

An application can be made after the end of a tenancy,[3] except for tenancies lawfully ended before 6 April 2012 where there can be no claim once the tenancy has ended.[4]

Joint tenants

In joint tenancies, each of the tenants must be party to the application.[5] However, if one tenant has disappeared, the other tenant(s) can apply to the court under CPR 19.3 for an order that the claim can proceed and the missing tenant is not required to be a party. For more information on joint tenants and tenancy deposits, see Joint tenancies.

Limitation of claim

A claim must be brought within six years of the date that a 'cause of action' arises.[6]

This date is likely to be the expiry of the time limit for a landlord/agent to comply with the tenancy deposit protection rules, but it could also be argued that the time limit for a claim starts from the end of the tenancy, since that is the time at which the deposit becomes repayable.

In some circumstances, the six-year limit would be unfair if it dates from the expiry of the 30-day time limit for compliance, since the issue of deposit protection may only come to the tenant's attention when the tenancy ends. Also, a tenant may continue in occupation for longer than six years, knowing that the deposit was not protected, but not wanting to bring a claim in case of a retaliatory eviction.

The question of the correct limitation period has not been tested in the courts.

What the court can order

Where the court is satisfied that the landlord (or her/his agent) has not complied with all her/his obligations within the relevant time limits, it:[7]

  • must order the landlord/agent to pay the tenant (or 'relevant person') a sum between one and three times the amount of the deposit paid, and
    • where the tenancy has not ended at the date of the hearing must order the landlord/agent to repay the deposit to the tenant (or 'relevant person'), or to pay it into an authorised custodial scheme
    • where the tenancy has ended at the date of the hearing may order the landlord/agent to repay all or part of the deposit to the tenant (or 'relevant person').

The order must be complied with within 14 days.

The landlord cannot avoid a financial sanction by belatedly complying with her/his obligations.[8]

The legislation does not set out any factors the court should consider when deciding the level of the award. However, the following factors may be amongst those the court will take into account, namely, whether the landlord:

  • should be assumed to be aware of her/his obligations, eg if s/he is a professional landlord
  • acted in bad faith
  • had taken steps to rectify the failure to comply with her/his obligations.

One court considered the blameworthiness of the landlord as the most relevant factor when deciding the level of the award.[9]

A landlord who had protected the deposit in an authorised scheme, but had failed to provide the tenant with all the prescribed information, had not complied with the statutory scheme and was ordered to pay a financial penalty.[10]

If the landlord has taken a deposit that consists of property other than money, the court must order the landlord to return that property to the tenant.[11]

Multiple breaches

There is no binding case law to confirm whether a section 214 claim can be made for each breach of the tenancy deposit protection requirements (eg, a failure to protect a deposit both under an original fixed-term agreement and under subsequent statutory periodic tenancy) or whether the first breach would be treated as a single continuing breach.

Wales

The legislative references and the footnotes on this page reflect the law in England. In Wales, very similar rules made under Welsh legislation apply, but the references may be different. Visit Shelter Cymru for more details about the law in Wales.

[1] s.214(1) Housing Act 2004, as amended by s.184 Localism Act 2011 and by s.31 Deregulation Act 2015.

[2] r.56.2 CPR; para 2.1 PD 56.

[3] s.214(1A) Housing Act 2004, as inserted by s.184 Localism Act 2011.

[4] Art 16 Localism Act 2011 (Commencement No. 4 and Transitional, Transitory and Saving Provisions) Order 2012 SI 2012/628; Gladehurst Properties Ltd v Hashemi [2011] EWCA Civ 604.

[5] Gladehurst Properties Ltd v Hashemi [2011] EWCA Civ 604.

[6] s.9 Limitation Act 1980.

[7] s.214(3), (3A) and (4) Housing Act 2004, as amended.

[8] Khuja v Chowdhury [2015] EW Misc B18 (CC). It should be noted that s.214 Housing Act 2004 was amended to reverse the effect of the decisions in Tiensa v Vision Enterprises Ltd [2010] EWCA Civ 1224, in which the Court of Appeal held that the relevant date was the date of the hearing so that a landlord could always defeat a claim by complying before the actual hearing of the tenant's claim.

[9] Okadigbo v Chan [2014] EWHC 4729 (QB).

[10] Ayannuga v Swindells [2012] EWCA Civ 1789; Suurpere v Nice [2011] EWHC 2003 (QB).

[11] s.213(7) and (8) Housing Act 2004.

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